This 2002 dissertation is publicly accessible and, for those who wonder about the NAR and its relation to the “Toronto Blessing,” is essential reading:
THE TORONTO BLESSING: AN EXPRESSION OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY IN THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT?
Note the question mark at the end of the title.
Here’s part of the abstract (emphasis added):
Although Charismatics claim that the Toronto Blessing has a sound biblical foundation, no evidence to support this claim has been found. However, striking similarities are found between the manifestations of the Toronto Blessing and the techniques used in the ‘Kundalini awakening’ for the transference of energy. Finally, the major findings of this study support the conclusion that the Toronto Blessing is largely the result of psychological techniques. The possibility of Godly (sic) intervention is not totally excluded, but caution is urged, so as to be aware of extraneous factors that create similar manifestations. While it is agreed that the Toronto Blessing can be seen as an expression of spirituality in a broad sense, nevertheless it cannot be viewed as an expression of Christian spirituality in the Charismatic Movement.
For those unfamiliar with the “Kundalini Awakening,” it’s not something good, at least if one is thinking in any Christian sense. As one site that endorses the idea says, “Kundalini is often described as a dormant serpent energy coiled up at the base of the spine. . . . [continuing with a quotation]: ‘It is said that the serpent is Shakti, a goddess that is legendary for having created all that is. One of two protagonists in a sort of “big bang” origin story, inspired by her longing to be one with Lord Shiva, the other protagonist’.”
You get the idea. Read the rest of the link for more of that sort of thing. Read the dissertation for the “striking similarities” between this quite pagan approach to spirituality and the “Toronto Blessing.”
The above document, as noted, is a doctoral dissertation. For something a lot shorter, though not reviewed by peer scholars, there’s this:
KUNDALINI ENERGY: Yoga’s Power, Influence, and Occult Phenomena in the Church
I’ve long thought (and occasionally said) that what passes for Holy Spirit empowerment in lots of charismatic churches and contexts isn’t. I’ve been into paranormal research long enough to know that the same sorts of things (“slain in the Spirit”; ecstatic tongues, altered states of consciousness that produce visions – see this list of Kundalini effects) can be found in occult religions and practices, the product of either self-inducement, drugs, or evil spirits. Self inducement through various “spiritual” (meditative) disciplines or trauma (physical or psychological) seems like the most prominent category. In any event, we’re not talking about gifts of the Spirit.
If I recall, Watchman Nee kind of had the same warning, though from a strange and roundabout path.
Mike, when I was in India, I ran across a guy from New Zealand on YouTube named Andrew Strom within Charismatic circles heavily critical of all of this showing deep connections between the two, so you mentioned a number of times on the podcast why no one within is saying or doing anything, this guy is and worth checking out!
May I suggest that you read D.T. Susuki’s Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist: The Eastern and Western Way before you wander into comparative religion? or perhaps Buddhist-Christian Dialogue as Theological Exchange: An Orthodox Contribution to Comparative Theology
by Ernest M.Valea would be more to your liking. Yes, I’m aware that kundalini is primarily Hindu rather than Buddhist but am more familiar with Buddhist-Christian comparative literature. And as for what kundalini is, you will find many definitions – be careful not to cherry-pick a strawman. From Wikipedia, another cherrypicked definition: “Ramana Maharshi mentioned that Kundalini is nothing but the natural energy of the Self, where Self is the universal consciousness (Paramatma) present in every being and that the individual mind of thoughts cloaks this natural energy from unadulterated expression.”
This phenomenon is something I have been watching for years and have witnessed firsthand, seeing people positively impacted as well as others going off into error. One thing I have noticed though in much of the looking for similarities between Holy Spirit manifestations, Kundalini manifestations and otherwise emotional reactions is that it typically focuses on the external similarities. Rarely, do you see a more long term approach to discerning, i.e: judging the fruit of said encounters. When dealing with the impact of spirit and the human body it is understandable that there could be similar reactions or even counterfeit copies of the real thing and the demonic. The real test in my mind is what is the fruit of the encounter. Did the person become more in love with Jesus, a more dedicated disciple and did their lives begin to bear fruits of the Holy Spirit and the expanding of the kingdom of God? Or did the encounter lead to a pantheistic new view of oneness with God and a promoting of a “new” way that leads people away from Christ? Also, were they seeking and asking the Lord for more of Him? (He promised not to give us a snake, Matt. 7)
The kundalini is meant to bring the person into the awareness of their oneness with the divine and that they are already divine and now can experience no separation. That is the yoga experience. This is also what we see happening in the garden of Eden with serpent and Adam and Eve.
There are similarities perhaps in manifestation and even like those little scavenger fish along a whale or shark there is the enemy trying to take advantage of non-discerning saints. However, when people judge or discern simply on external similarities then they show that the discernment hasn’t gone beyond the carnal mind.
It is possible to have good and bad in a genuine move of God and that is where we need to judge the fruit and cling to what is good throwing out what is rotten.
This done in the love of God will also keep us from becoming accusers of the brethren based on an external manifestation yet not becoming blind and non-discerning ourselves.
Not sure if my last comment was posted yet but it was mainly focused on some of the manifestations going on in charismatic churches of no doubt there are some that are questionable at best but there is also genuine.
When it comes to “christianizing” practices like yoga (which is a non separated practice of Hinduism), unitive seeing also known in some forms of contemplative prayer, etc… then I must say we truly need to be more discerning in the Body of Christ.
I have witnessed many believers who do love Jesus defend such practices because of a stated benefit even going so far as saying it can be redeemed equating it to Christmas . What they mean by that is referring to some roots being pagan of origin.
I simply cannot agree that comparing Christmas to yoga is apples for apples.
I know this probably sounds crazy but I have heard that argument. One that was also employed was concerning Paul’s discussion on not eating meats sacrificed to idols and applying that if you are a strong believer then yoga is fine. What they fail to grasp is that eating meat sacrificed to idols is not encouraged and neither is spiritual adultary just because it gives a physical benefit.
Let me first just thank you for all of your work and for the vast amount of free material you publish (I’m also a fan of all of your books and encourage you to continue publish your thoughts in books since that is sometimes easier to access than webpages).
Let me ask you some questions regarding this matter of “kundalini spirit”. Feel free ta answer me or not, I’m just curious, I’m not having a big problem with this whole thing.
– Watchman Nee said that it’s one thing to have the Holy Spirit poured “upon you” and another thing to have the Spirit working within you. The Spirit working within you will bring forth godliness over time. However, the Spirit coming upon you will release everything that’s within you, i.e., your sanctified part but also your sanctified part. He claims that a man much transformed by the Spirit will release “a very peaceful manifestation” when the Spirit comes upon him. However, a man not so much transformed by the Spirit will also release a lot of “fleshy manifestation”.
Can that be what’s happening when a Christian is manifesting a “kundalini-like” behavior?
– Mike Bickle said that up to “90%” of the manifestations we see simply is the flesh manifesting, but the other 10% are genuinely from God. If we stop everything because of the 90% not from God, we will also stop the real 10% from God.
What do you think about this? Is that a reason to accept different crazy manifestations?
– Jonathan Welton has written a whole book about “counterfeits” called “New Age Masquerade”. He simply says that the darkness is copying what is genuinely from God, creating counterfeits. I guess he would say that the kundalini spirit is just the darkness counterfeiting the “real deal”.
Could that be true?
And my own opinion: When we see different “manifestations” (i.e., people reacting to the Holy Spirit doing something within them) we also see how the “ego” tries to get the attention. The manifestation is not something to endorse, focus should always be Christ and not anything else, but the fruit of the “encounter” will reveal if it was from God or not.
Let me just clarify that I don’t endorse the NAR-movement or everything the persons mentioned above teaches. My question is simple related to the comments they’ve made.
Personally I have been to all kinds of different contexts. (Charismatic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Contemplative, YWAM, Deeper Life and so on). I would simply call my a brother in Christ who loves Him and who’s trying to find a healthy approach to spiritual manifestation. And since a highly appreciate your opinions, I ask you to please comment on these questions (if you have time).
The Toronto Blessing seems to be similar to experiences in Shaker worship as well. Any thoughts? I’ve read John Wesley experienced “holy laughter” and seemingly couldn’t discern if it was good or evil. It looks goofy enough to make a mockery of God to the world.
This might be one of most important posts you’ve blogged about in recent memory. This stuff is everywhere. Most Churches that practice healing in America have some sort of tie to the Toronto Blessing. The problem is you and Holly Pivec are virtually the only trusted sources on this material. Would you be willing to name names, perhaps in a private MIQLAT newsletter? I think shining a light on this important. Also, can you touch on, perhaps in a separate post, where all of this fits in to where Jesus specifically says that by asking for the Holy Spirit, He will not give you a serpent or a scorpion? By asking for the Holy Spirit we receive the Holy Spirit, not kundalini, yes? I’m not defending Toronto, I don’t know enough about it… just trying to parse how it all fits into scripture and also, if Bibilically speaking disease is caused by dead nephilim spirits why would something that seeks to destroy humans bother healing them?
I actually asked a seeing/healing pastor (who LOVES your work btw, and said, “Michael has a very good understanding of “the unseen realm” for someone who hasn’t seen or experienced it!”) how he knew that his healing was from God and not something else and he said, “All healing comes from the Father. That’s why Jesus is reversing disease, not handing out plagues. The scripture says Holy Spirit will lead and guide you into all truth. So put your faith in him and not the enemy. I believe one of the reasons the Western church is so powerless, apart from bad theology, is their faith in the enemy. Most believers in the West put more faith in the enemy’s ability to deceive them, than in Holy Spirit’s ability to lead and guide them into all truth.
“Faith and belief are powerful gifts that God has given to us. But if you believe in the wrong thing, put faith in the wrong thing, come into agreement with the wrong thing… then you empower it. Put faith and belief in the right thing (in God) and you empower Him in your life! Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in His hometown… because of their lack of belief in Him. They saw what they were familiar with. The young man who grew up in their neighborhood. They didn’t believe him to be the Son of God, Messiah. So, He couldn’t bring much of Heaven to Earth. He couldn’t move in much power, because their faith was in the wrong thing and they were empowering the enemy rather than opening a way for God to move. God honors the free will He’s given us. If we choose to reject Him, He will honor that. If we choose to love Him, He will surely honor that!
“Roman’s 11:29 says “…for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” or “without repentance” meaning that once God gives someone a gift or a calling (ministry office) He doesn’t change His mind about it, He doesn’t take it back. So, once you have it, it’s yours. But what you do with it is another matter. The gifts/anointing of God are a grace. You don’t receive it because you deserver it or because you’ve somehow earned it. It can often come by hunger, but not always. But once received, you still have it regardless how you live your life. If you receive a gift of prophecy or healing, it can take place regardless of how your steward the rest of your life. Personal holiness (sanctification) play a huge part in your intimacy with God, but the gifts can operate separately from that.”
I tend to agree with that. We are commanded in 1 Corinthians 14:39 to earnestly covet the gifts of the Holy Spirit like prophecy, healing, and tongues. All this seems to take place with trusted elders laying hands on you (Romans 1:11, 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6) in order to receive the gifts. At the same time I don’t know how to parse healing ministries with ties to Toronto and possibly kundalini with what I read in Scripture.
All that to say, please don’t stop blogging about this important issue.
Thank you for all that you do!